After ten-days of guests and feasts at Thanksgiving, I declared this a no-Christmas year and thought I’d glide through the December Doldrums with full sails. But anticipating losing my wind isn’t the same as avoiding it, and yesterday I found myself becalmed.
“The doldrums” refers to the five degrees north and south of the equator in the Atlantic Ocean, famous for sudden storms and unpredictable winds. Storms of self-doubt and unpredictable winds of self pity accurately describe my emotional force field this time of year. I question what I’ve accomplished, and I focus on what I haven’t.
I’ve been here before – at the end of every December, it seems. So I recognized both what was happening and that this, too, shall pass. But I’d hoped that by anticipating the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now calls this part of the world, I could avoid it. But here it is, the end of December, and I’m deep in the ITCZ (pronounced itch), complete with dry skin, limp hair and drooping ego.
Because this isn’t my first time around the sun, I’ve developed a remedy: Walk Therapy.
It helps that I have Leo the Dog, my Walk Therapist. He amuses himself chasing squirrels outside my studio while I work. But yesterday, he lost patience, scratched at the door and tugged at my pant leg with his gentle mouth. There was no mistaking his message: it was time get up, get out, and go for a walk.
I abandoned my unfinished sentence, pulled on extra layers, and followed him uphill for three miles to a frozen lake covered in snow. Sunshine blared from the wide sky. Wind roared over the ice and wormed behind my dark glasses. My eyes watered and my tears froze. Wind burned my ears and tunneled through the seams of my layers.
The sun and wind – bright and bitter – blew me back into the Trade Winds of movement, creativity, even an inkling of belief in myself. Meteorologically, these prevailing winds circle the globe, moving ships and weather; the metaphorical ones keep my pen moving across the page.
By the time we descended back to our valley, it was dusk. I returned to my desk with hope and ideas and the courage to put them into words.
Wishing you all the wonder of the solstice, as the earth turns again toward the sun.